I'm concerned that as a prolific, but untrained reader, I missed what really happened here. Is it magic realism, an unreliable narrator, or weird thing I've never heard of, due to my mediocre education? Regardless, I was consumed by this story of two girls who may or may not have ever met. Violet is a dancer, bound for Juilliard in the fall. Amber is a convicted manslaughterer, headed for prison when she graduates from juvie. Amber is by far the more pleasant and sympathetic of the two. The person they have in common is Violet's ex-best friend and Amber's cellie Orianna.
Violet is selfish. She's mean to her friend and her boyfriend, and vain. Whereas Amber is the detention center library book cart girl.
On the afternoons I wheeled the library cart around to each wing--every wing except D-wing, which lost all privileges, the least of which was book-borrowing--I always knew the titles certain girls would want. Jody loved bodice rippers and any romance (you'd never guess it to hear her mouth), and Peaches was using her time inside to study up on the law. Little T.'s taste in novels leaned toward the classics, and she was always hogging our one copy of Jane Eyre.
Our private taste in books showed a hint of our secret selves, and sometimes I was the only one who go to see those secrets.
Amber keeps her secrets close. We never find out what she's reading, but we do find out about her crime. The girls don't talk to each other about their convictions, but everyone seems to know what everyone else was convicted for. Or maybe that's just Amber, who listens exponentially more than she speaks.
Suma's storytelling is all that, but she can also pack a sentence, like "Her freckles pop like blood splatter." That is rich and creepy!
Later she describes toe shoes as "red as a vodka cherry." Vodka cherry? I hadn't heard of that before, but immediately I tasted bitter alcohol and something sweet that didn't belong, which is the perfect image for the feel of the story.